09/08/2014 10:34 am ET Updated Nov 08, 2014

Glum and Glummer: Democrats (and Voters) Keep Overlooking Jobless Households


Every month for the last six years, I've published an analysis of America's Real Unemployment crisis, which includes several groups of unemployed American workers that the official Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate does not factor in. We now know that in August, the Real Unemployment Rate decreased by 0.2 percent to 12.0 percent, while the official Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unemployment rate decreased to 6.1 percent (from 6.2 percent).

This six percentage point difference is much more than just different number crunching -- the real differences are striking and sobering.

Since 1947, the BLS has counted for its monthly official public report only those persons who are actively looking for employment. It does not include therein the 2.1 million workers who, while wanting and available for jobs, have not searched for work in the past four weeks but who have searched for work in the past twelve months, nor does it include the 7.3 million workers who work part-time only because they're unable to find full-time jobs or they've had their hours cut back. These two groups combined -- 9.4 million workers in total -- are roughly equivalent in size to the population of North Carolina.

Adding in BLS's unemployment figure of 9.6 million, the number of Real Unemployed Persons now stands at 19.0 million (roughly equivalent to the population of Florida), which does not even include the 4.2 million workers who, while also saying they want jobs, have, mostly out of frustration, not looked for work in the past twelve months.

How can we look into the eyes of these unemployed workers -- or ourselves in the mirror -- without acknowledging our failure to address this crisis? Don't we have a moral obligation to our fellow Americans who had nothing to with creating this ongoing jobs crisis?

They're not to blame for the failed subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. They're not the ones who callously shipped millions of American jobs to China and elsewhere. And the argument that they lack sufficient training is false and a very cruel claim.

Just as outrageous are the incessant demands for more austerity measures. With roughly one in seven American workers sidelined in our economy, we simply cannot cut our way to prosperity. In the face of persistently high real unemployment, we need economic policies which promote growth, enhance skills and give the unemployed their own shot at the American Dream.

From a political standpoint, it's no wonder three quarters of Americans now think that as a nation we're headed in the wrong direction. They disapprove of the job Congress is doing, they disapprove of the job the Republican leadership is doing and they hold the budget-cutting measures of the Tea Party in the lowest possible esteem.

Abraham Lincoln quipped that, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." His once Grand Old Party is trying desperately today to prove Honest Abe wrong.

Across this nation, many Democratic candidates and their campaigns have the sense that they are about to be beaten. And in truth, at least today, virtually every political pundit, electoral model and poll has them losing majorities in the House and Senate, albeit in each case narrowly.

And "narrowly" is the key word.

If these Democrat candidates would shake off their senses of gloom and doom, they could excite the electorate with the prospects of un-divided government and of real statesmen leading the Senate, the House of Representatives and the National Governors Association.

With just nine weeks to go until the November elections, Democrats need to focus their energies on the nation's 23.2 million Real Unemployed workers. In the 2010 midterm election -- when the Democrats took a "shellacking" -- jobless households made up 30 percent of the actual turnout and they split 50 percent to 45 percent in favor of Democratic congressional candidates nationwide. This occurred despite the fact that in 2010 too few of the Democratic candidates aggressively sought support from the unemployed and the underemployed.

Now four years later, with the Real Unemployment Rate having improved only slightly, who was most responsible for rejecting every meaningful job growth initiative? Who at the same time ended extended unemployment benefits, obstructed passage of the American Jobs Act and cut food stamps?

The answer is the GOP Establishment led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, responding as they always do to the irresponsible Tea Party.

Ironically, there are many more households with unemployed workers in them than there are Tea Party households, especially in some of the most competitive states and congressional districts. Repeating the mistake of 2010 and ignoring this huge block of clearly Democratic leaning voters makes no sense.

At the "Union of Unemployed," my friend Rick Sloan is doing exactly the right thing. He has recruited over 225,000 Facebook fans, including 50,000 from 100 deeply red Congressional Districts. His efforts are now reaching up to 4.8 million folks per week with aggressive messaging and indisputable facts.

Using animated cartoons, photos and posts, the Union of Unemployed has gone on the offensive. Its star attraction -- "Camo" -- is a political chameleon who says he supports job growth, but who then acts and votes like John Boehner. You can see Camo's first animated cartoon here.

The strong support for the Union of Unemployed shows just how successful the strategy of focusing on the unemployed and the underemployed can be. We already know that each UCubed fan has, on average, a hundred or more friends, and that these friends' reactions to UCubed's campaign are also overwhelmingly positive.

In less than nine weeks we will see if the Real Unemployed either rally to Democratic candidates or Republican candidates, or abstain. But if Mr. Sloan is right, these 23.2 million American workers could alter the course of American history and deliver a resounding rebuke to those who've made them suffer unduly for nearly six long years.